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First Episode Impression: Blue Archive the Animation

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Blue Archive The Animation ?
Community score: 3.7

What is this?


Kivotos is a huge academic city made up of thousands of schools. Here, scuffles between students with guns in hand have become a daily occurrence. Amidst this, Abydos High School, which is covered in sand, is on the verge of closure. Five students from the "Task Committee" struggle to escape the situation. The story begins to move when they meet an "adult" called "Sensei."

Blue Archive The Animation is based on the mobile game series by Nexon. The anime series is streaming on Blue Archive's official YouTube channel on Thursdays.

How was the first episode?

Nicholas Dupree

Up front, I know basically nothing about the Blue Archive game. I downloaded it once, but it kept crashing during the tutorial mission, and I wasn't interested in reinstalling the whole thing again to see if it would work. Since then, I've been content to let fanart filter into my view via my incredibly horny mutuals on social media, bereft of context. I briefly hoped that this anime might offer some of that context, but I immediately recognized that this show is made near-exclusively for existing fans.

Seriously, if you want so much as a scrap of coherent world-building about any of the immediately strange elements of this show, you will not find it in this premiere. Even fundamental questions (Why do all the girls have halos? Why do some, but not all, of them have animal ears? Why do they all have guns? Why do the guns fire seemingly real bullets but bounce off these girls like Nerf darts?) are totally ignored, but not in the grounded “let things be explained naturally through context” way a serious sci-fi story might. It feels more like the writers just assumed anyone watching this either already knows how this world works from the game, or they won't care and are just here to see their favorite character designs in action. If that's you, and you're a fan of any of the five girls from Abydos, you're in good hands. As somebody who at least likes the semblance of a story in my animated advertisements, I was left pretty cold.

If you can look past the non-existent world-building, what you're left with is a pretty standard anime plot. Sure, the opening scene portends some dark future for the cast, full of ponderous and foreboding monologues that don't make sense to us right now, but the meat of this episode is essentially Love Live! with guns instead of music. Shiroko and her fellow classmates are the last members of a failing school trying to keep the dream alive, and their nameless Sensei arrives to blandly give them minor tactical advice in their gun fights, which will presumably help them pay off the school's debt in some fashion. Maybe that could be funny or charming if we had a bigger picture of what was going on in the world. Still, with so little context, all the military hardware and post-apocalypse elements come off as superfluous set dressing for a very basic story. Combined with stock character personalities, it's a pretty unremarkable first impression.


The visuals, at least, do something to make up for that. The art here is sharp and clean and takes a very soft approach to lineart, making everything pop nicely on screen. The designs themselves aren't really to my taste, but they have distinctive silhouettes to accompany their archetypal personalities, so they're never dull to look at. The animation is all around excellent, especially during the action sequences as rifles fire and characters leap through dust clouds or combat roll behind cover. That's where the strongest appeal for an uninitiated viewer lies, and if the show wants to be turn-off-your-brain, low-stakes fun, it has the tools to manage that.

Those visuals have some issues, at least on the current streaming release. YouTube just isn't a great place to host this, with the site's streaming compression degrading the video. It's still watchable, but everything is noticeably blurry in a way that almost certainly wasn't intentional. If the bracketed hex codes left in the subtitles are any indication, this translation script wasn't originally intended for YouTube's limited closed captioning feature. Again, those subtitles are still readable, and the translation itself seems fine (especially compared to the existing ones from Ani-One Asia). Still, there's some visible scuff that really shouldn't be there on an official release. Still, this will suffice if you've been waiting all these weeks to watch the show legally.


If you haven't been waiting with bated breath for this show, I can't recommend it. While there's fun to be had here, the presentation holds you at arm's length if you're not an established Blue Archivist already, and there are plenty of “saving the school” or girls with guns anime out there that you don't need to muscle through to get this combo pack.

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